I'm a Melbourne-based producer/mixer who loves working with emerging acts. I've worked with a number of artists from zero to hero; as such, I've now got a proven track record of turning promising songs and artists into excitingly viable products. The sound of mine that I'm most approached about is 'real musicians with a streak of electronica'.
While I've worked with some of Australia's big acts I now like to focus on artists who are just stepping out - far more interesting and fun than the established acts! (I've particularly specialized in working with solo female singer/writers.)
Songs and artists come to me that need to go to the next level, sent by labels, managers and direct approaches.
We can traverse the whole continuum from what you'd like from me as a producer/mixer/musician, from 'here's half a chorus that's great, now fill in the blanks', all the way to a point-by-point blueprint for me to follow to the letter, and everything in between.
We talk about the brief; I go to work and send you draft 1 within 2 days; you send me back a bullet point list of changes; I send back the new draft; and we keep going till the track is perfect.
As a multi-instrumentalist, I work in a 'play to order' way, with an exceptionally wide range of skills to bring to bear honed over decades, from full string arrangements to every instrument in an indie-pop band to 8 piece vocal harmonies to the world's worst upright piano sound.
I have a degree in classical composing, a publishing deal with Sony/ATV, and I've done work for Sony, Universal, EMI, Mushroom and other smaller labels.
I can work easily from all over the world via Skype etc.
Listen to the sounds, and I'd love to chat.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
13 ReviewsEndorse Benjamin McCarthy
I really appreciate Ben for his work on my EP. He had ideas I would have never thought of, was easy to get along with and above all was genuinely excited about what we were creating!
Macca is one of the finest people you’ll meet in the music industry. His productions skills and musicianship are nothing short of world class, plus he’s pleasure to be around in and out of the studio.
Macca is one of the finest people you’ll meet in the music industry. His productions skills and musicianship are nothing short of works class, plus he’s pleasure to be around in and out of the studio.
Ben is the best. Such an incredible musical talent and an absolute pleasure to work with. A gentleman in the studio and a master of his craft. Super fun and made everything seem easy while upholding an amazing work ethic and producing great results. Couldn’t recommend him more.
Ben is an incredibly intuitive, warm and grounding presence in the studio. I worked with Ben from demo stage through to mastering and he made it such an exciting, fun and seamless process. He's a producer who "gets" your vision as a writer and has a great skill for extracting and building on what you're trying to get across. I also know Ben as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and performer. Having a producer who can "be the band" if required is a huge bonus. The guy is also a humble, sweet and kind human who only wants the best for you and the song. Could not recommend Ben more.
Ben is somebody that will find sounds you’ve never even thought of incorporating into your record, that leaves you feeling refreshed and constantly inspired. Over the years Ben has not only been one of my favourite collaborators, but one of my favourite producers with credits on songs I didn’t even realise. He is an I icon and I would trust him to always be honest and give 100% to anything he’s working on. (AND he’s a great human!!!)
I worked with Ben on my first ever singles and EP, and I’m so thankful my music ended up in the right hands straight away. I couldn’t have ended up with a more passionate, honest, lovely and hard working producer and out of the box creater.
i loved working with Ben on my EP. An amazing engineer and an even better bloke! Has incredible energy and always got the best performance out of me.
He thinks outside of the box, is an incredible keyboardist, and is one of the most personable producers in the industry. I love working with Ben <3
Ben came along at a pivotal point in our career and was a catalyst in helping us define and shape our music. His insight into structure and arrangement has been indespensable. When you work with Ben you get a level of passion for your project that you simply won't experience with other producers. He genuinely cares.
Ben cares. He knows how to make a good track a great track, and also knows how to work with artists to get the best performance possible - repeatedly. He's incredibly committed and works diligently from 'go' to 'whoa'; from inception to mastering. He's an accomplished musician (I've not seen him pick up any instrument and NOT be able to play it), and seemingly telepathically knows what needs to go where. I can't recommend Ben highly enough.
Ben is an amazing producer. He is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and has an outstanding ear for arrangements. No need to hire session musicians because Ben is a pro at them all- and brings it all together in a way that no one else can. He is also super hard working and passionate about your project and your development as an artist. Ben will take you to pro level and beyond!!!!
The best producer in the universe. Gets creative vision effortlessly. An absolute honour to work with him and can only hope to work with him again in the future. 5 stars!!
Interview with Benjamin McCarthy
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Never fall into the trap of clinging to cliches that you mistake for 'how it's done' in the industry - be open to ALL ideas, not obsessed with the idea in your head because 'real artists stick to a vision without wavering.' Don't be afraid to feel uncomfortable with new ideas...
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on a single for the runner-up of The Voice Australia, co-writing from scratch.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital for most things, analog for others. After about 20 years of digital, there's been a huge improvement in gear quality and how to use it well. Still can't beat tape for low end though.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That it'll be the best you've ever sounded. Period.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I never fail to be amazed at how unique every single musician is; just when you think you've picked up every type there is, another human being comes along with their own colour to add to the tapestry.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: 'Yikes, I don't know exactly what I want, just something good!' - 'Well that's exactly what you're giving me money to sort out for you.'
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: People often have had a bad experience working with less than professional standard producers in the past - I'll give you your music very quickly, and without a shred of financial issues. Hey, it's in my interest for you to become a star, I WANT you to succeed.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: 'What else do you have written? Let's hear it!'
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A U87, a Chandler pre, an Apogee converter, a Distressor and the full UAD plugin package! Does that count as 5?
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been in studios since I was 5! My dad was a musician, and I've spent my whole adult life touring round the world with artists or producing. I started out as a teen with the classic 4-track cassette bedroom setup, and after a composing degree worked my way up through the usual bands/assisting route. I've learned all studio techniques on the job.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm always seen in Australia as being able to handle genuine, playing musicians and give it an edge. An interesting combo of the organic and the electronic.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Never underestimate the power of mono in a mix!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Indie pop, rough garage folk-pop, evocative laptop reverb. Very vocal oriented.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Easily, it's my ability to see the POTENTIAL in anything - just need to reframe x, just need to cut section y, simply repeat part z. I'm very focussed also on small changes having big impacts; if it's ready to explode, all it needs is a few basic changes most of the time.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: An expert outsider's opinion, backed up with decades of experience and training. I've never heard your song, I have fresh ears and I'm able to manage its impact to the millimeter (or inch!)
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to work quickly! Never forget that the ordinary consumer has an instant impression - most of the time the picture of what needs to be done for the track forms on the first listen of the ruff. If it's producing, I'll either ask for everything the client has ever written to choose a song to work on (too many times I've uncovered old or forgotten songs that are just brilliant) or begin to pick apart the song writing with a microscope - nothing will sound good if the writing isn't top class. I'll then have a long chat with about what references the client has in mind, from very specific to having no idea, and normally put down some ruff vox/guitar/keys to build around. Within 2 days I'll have a first draft done of a full arrangement/mix for the client to approve or adjust as they wish; I play all the instruments and programme as necessary using a wide range of tools. We go back and forth until we've hit perfection.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm running a mixing/tracking room treated mathematically with a ton of special hi-tech Sydney-made baffles, a classic NS-10/Auratone monitoring path. I have everything easily to hand from classic synths to modern controllers, load boxes for running amps flat out without blowing ears, reel-to-reel and 4-track cassettes in the patch bay. My 1973 Neumann U87 or my Shure SM7 work perfectly for all types of vocals. Outboard units like the Dolby SR encoder and just about every plugin made round out my ability to track anything from pristine vocals to real drums to all electronic needs.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Prince, Beatles, solo McCartney, Peter Gabriel, many of the big solo female acts eg Lykke Li, St. Vincent, Julia Michaels, Florence. Asgeir is amazing.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: 'Folktronica' is the most common request - off-beat and edgy genuine playing with electronic elements.